January

Happy New Year! I hope your new year has had a good start. Despite all the distressing news I read in the media, I am hopeful that 2020 will be a good year. I hope it will contain more good than bad. I believe that no matter how misguided some people may be, deep down everyone wants to live a peaceful life that is in harmony with others. I hope that this desire will eventually lead people to see what actions are most helpful to the world, and they will carry out those actions. I hope this even if I don’t always feel it’s possible.

Thinking of actions that are most helpful to the world, I sometimes feel helpless that I can’t do more. My time and mental energy is strapped. And, yet, I feel I’m doing something very important. I’m raising two children, and not only this, I’m homeschooling them. I’m trying to give them a wide view of the world — not a narrow one! I tell them about all kinds of different people, cultures, beliefs, and ideas. I will keep telling them about these things, and hopefully, when they are finished with their homeschooling, they will continue to learn on their own. Above everything, I try to teach them that learning never stops. We should never assume that we have the answers to everything.

My action in this world is an investment in the future. I can only hope that my boys will be compassionate, giving and kind-hearted people. I don’t expect them to be famous or passionate activists, though maybe they will be. They can be whoever they want to be. But I do expect them to be kind to everyone they meet. I expect them to at least not be blinded about other people’s suffering. I expect them to care about the Earth and its future because that is how you care about the future inhabitants of Earth, including your great-grandchildren.

We can’t all make big, grand gestures, but that’s okay. I think all the small actions, the small stones, ripple out farther than we can possibly know. I hope that my blog is a small stone. I hope all the time and effort I put into homeschooling is a much bigger stone.

Speaking of my blog, you may have noticed that for this past year, I have mostly written monthly updates vs. “how to homeschool” posts. I think this is a natural progression as my boys get older, but also, the old format doesn’t seem necessary anymore. That’s because this blog contains years worth of elementary homeschool posts, and I think that’s more than enough information to help people on their homeschool journey.

I’ve enjoyed writing it all, and I’ve especially enjoyed the rare comments and emails I get telling me that my posts are helpful. As I go forward with middle school and high school, however, I’m going to move my exclusively homeschool content to MY STORE in form of pdf resources. And, yes, I’m going to sell the information for a small amount of money. While I love writing and sharing, and I would do it free forever, if I could, we are making huge sacrifices while homeschooling, and I just can’t do all this work for free anymore. I hope you understand.

I will, of course, write a post introducing any new resource I write, and I still have two years of elementary school with my younger son, so there may be a few posts about that. But for the most part, I want to use this blog as my place to relax from a busy day and reflect on daily life, nature, books, music, (maybe documentaries?), and other things I’m learning whether it’s with the boys or not. In other words, I’ll keep writing my monthly updates.

If you have read this entire blog post, thank you, and if you have been a regular reader of my blog, I thank you even more. Have a wonderful 2020!

Happy New Year

near Amicalola Falls, Georgia-6

I hope you had a wonderful holiday and are enjoying a bright new year! I had hoped to be writing some mid-year updates in this space by now, but life has thrown some bumps at us. As soon as things settle down, I’ll catch up here. Meanwhile, I hope your homeschool life is flourishing. You can always reach me by e-mail.

a few small things

I think the last few months have surely been the busiest of my life. Fortunately, I love everything I’m doing, or I would be a little more batty than I am right now.

First, I’m happy to tell you that the fall issue of home / school / life magazine was released yesterday, and I think it’s excellent. Of course, I’m biased, but I’ve heard from a few other people who aren’t biased, and they think so too, and that makes me happy. I wish I could take credit for the wonderfulness of this issue, but my editor-in-chief did most of the magic with two fabulous articles — one is about the 10 best cities in the U.S. to homeschool in. She set certain criteria, did tons of research, compiled it together and scrutinized the data to come up with this list. Though we’re not planning to move, I now have some town envy for sure! She also wrote a great piece about asking yourself important questions that will be helpful to you as you enter and navigate this homeschool journey. I’m pulling out my journal one night with that one!

I also love all the columns in this issue, especially Amy Hood’s tips on visiting an art museum with kids and Patricia Zaballos’ letter to her beginning-to-homeschool self. She sure knows how to comfort the frazzled homeschooling mom!

As for me, I wrote an article about how to become a better family photographer. If you’re a novice behind the lens, you may enjoy it! And something about writing this feature stirred up photography in my life (before-hand I had pretty much put it to rest for awhile) because suddenly I found myself with three photography clients. What fun it was to take photographs beyond the family snapshots I had been taking! You can see my work on my photography website.

And this brings me to my next piece of news: I started a Facebook page for my photography. It will probably remain mostly personal work, which is what I intended my photo website to be, but I also wanted a way to connect more easily with my clients and share their photos. If you are interested, I’d love for you to follow me there.

Between all this busy-ness, I have not neglected my homeschooling duties, and my eight-year-old has been delving into some new interests. I already told you about our adventures with tardigrades. We also recently had the opportunity to visit a Makers Faire near Atlanta, and I wanted to go to that because I knew there would be a lot of robotics groups there showing off their latest creations. That’s because my eight-year-old has been interested in robots lately! I wish it were easier to support this interest faster, but since good robotics kits aren’t cheap, he’s going to have to wait a little while for his wish to come true on this one. Anyway, I’ll be sure to write about an easy scribble bot we assembled with a kit from the faire, and I also have a surprise continuation of a project that I thought was finished: growing mushrooms. You can read about part 1 here, and I’ll fill you in on part 2 soon. (Of course, if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you already know all this.)

I’ve been trying to support my five-year-old a little more with his drawing interest by displaying his work and also creating a corner in his room with art supplies and space to work! I’ll write about that, eventually.

Meanwhile, I’m getting ready for out-of-town guests. (I told you I’ve been busy, right?) So if you don’t hear from me for awhile, that’s why.

I hope you are having a wonderful fall season! Please write me and tell me what you’ve been up to.

Just a few magazine updates

HSL-SU14This is an exciting week for me because the second issue of home / school / life  magazine will come out! That’s the Summer 2014 issue, and I think it will be just as good as the first one, if not better. I have written a few pieces for it, although the one I heart the most is the feature about homeschooling through a financial crisis. Deciding to homeschool can be a real strain on a family’s financial life because it usually means that one parent isn’t working. (I’ve written about the financial strain in my own house, and that post is still current.) The families that I interviewed, however, reveal a different story. They have each kept homeschooling a priority despite financial troubles. It gave me much to think about, and I hope that it helps you, if you’re dealing with a similar situation.

On July 1st I’ll also be sending out home / school / life’s free monthly newsletter. This has been a lot of fun for me to work on because I’ve been able to connect more with other homeschoolers who share their homeschooling tips, Student Spotlight photos, and favorite recipes. I’m also excited because we’re going to start giving away a free digital subscription to home / school / life magazine in our newsletter every other month to one of our newsletter subscribers. (Current magazine subscribers will receive an extra year for free.) If you haven’t signed up for this, you have nothing to lose, so why don’t you?! Sign up here.

Now that the summer issue is almost out, I’m going to be brainstorming for ideas on how to utilize the magazine’s social media some more. Our blog has been quiet because we’re all so busy working on the magazine, but we have plans to change that too.  I’m excited to try my hand at writing some meditations for homeschooling parents because inspiring people makes me happy. And I can always use the boost too! When I start posting those, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Oh, and FYI, home / school / life is also looking for a Tech Columnist who can keep homeschoolers up-to-date on all things tech. If you or anyone you know is interested, see the full job description.

As for Mama of Letters, I have plenty of ideas I would like to write about. It’s just a matter of finding the time to write it! I’m working on our end-of-year review, which entails a big slideshow. It’s fun, but it’s a lot of work. (I rarely put family photos into any kind of memory book or slideshow, so I’m making myself do this!) Since the magazine issue is wrapping up, I should be able to find some time in the next couple of weeks.

All is good, though. I love working for the magazine. I love spending leisurely summer days with my kids. I’m busy in a good way. I hope your summer is going well too. Please write me a note, if you’re willing. I love connecting with you.

Introducing… home / school / life magazine

Layout 1

I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled program (ha) to introduce you to a new venture that I think you’re going to love.  home / school / life is a new, savvy, beautiful magazine for homeschoolers or anyone who wants to supplement their child’s school education with home education. It’s going to be unlike anything else out there.

And I am its senior editor.

It’s a long story, but last week I was approached about possibly taking on this role. It came as a big surprise, and I take it as a huge compliment that my (now) boss would want me to do this. I have been freelancing for Amy Sharony for her other magazine, Atlanta Homeschool, so I know she has many years experience in the magazine industry, and she produces an excellent product. I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.

I look forward to helping home / school / life magazine be the best publication of its kind. We will strive to make it not just a magazine but a place where you can come to ask questions, find useful information, and share your own story. I hope that we can create a friendly community of people who share that one, important commonality: we love our children and want them to have the best education possible.

It will be available in print to those who wish to subscribe, and there will also be a digital edition available online for a nominal fee. There will be a ton of free stuff available on its website too. The first issue will be available this spring.

What does this mean for Mama of Letters? Right now it is hard to tell how much time the magazine will take, but I hope to continue writing my newspaper column and working on my blog. However, I will probably have to cut back on the column and the amount of writing I do here.  My storytelling e-book project may have to wait awhile. I’m not giving anything up, but I will continue to do what I have always done: take it one step at a time.

This is a wonderful opportunity for me, and I’m excited that by collaborating with Amy and the other awesome people she has rounded up to make this an excellent magazine, we will be producing incredibly useful information for you that I could not possibly have done on my own in the same amount of time!

So I hope you will bookmark the website (there’s not much there yet), like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, send us your ideas and questions, and keep an eye out for that first issue! Thank you!

My e-mail for home / school / life will be shelli (at) homeschoollifemag (dot) com but you can still reach me at shellipabis (at) gmail (dot) com too.

Find Me Elsewhere Today

Just a short post today to tell you that I’m happily sharing more of my photography on the Mud Puddles to Meteors blog today. I’m flattered that they want to share my work! These are some of my favorite images from our trip to Amelia Island, Florida a couple of years ago. We were celebrating my in-laws 50th anniversary. Check that out by clicking here.

And, the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair found my post about the seven-year-old’s first science fair project, and they asked me if they could feature it on their blog as an example of how to get kids involved in science! Way to go, seven-year-old!! Check it out by clicking here.

Worthy Reads

I’ve had this Worthy Reads in my queue for a long time, so these articles are a bit out of date. I apologize for that. As my focus shifts to working on my storytelling book, I won’t be able to do Worthy Reads or Inspire Kids as frequently. But if I come across anything interesting, I’ll be sure to share it with you!

Homeschooling

Concerns about DFCS and homeschooling – Atlanta 11alive.com

Does homeschooling lead to better nutrition and weight? – SheKnows Parenting

Military bases open their doors to homeschoolers – philly.com

Homeschooling Inspiration

Learning to Love an Interest You Hate – Raising Cajuns – I loved this post.

Education

The kids don’t play any more – The Globe and Mail – Thanks to @campcreek for sharing this on Twitter.

Parenting

Trust Your Parenting Instincts – Building Boys – Yes, trust yourself!

About To Be Released…

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been working on the final details of my first e-book in…..5 minute increments?!  It feels that way, anyway! This has been a labor of love, but I have enjoyed learning about the process of making an e-book, and I hope it’s only the beginning.

In the next day or two you can expect the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

Meanwhile, I would like to thank everyone who voted on my blog and on Twitter for a cover and title. I will let the final outcome be a surprise, but I will tell you that I picked the title and photo with the most votes and which also best represents what my book is about. The final layout/design of the cover has changed significantly from what I used in the voting contest, but I think you’ll like it.

Thank you for all your support and readership. I couldn’t do it without you.

Wheeeeeee!!!

Blog Business and Worthy Reads

MOL the photographs

Introducing Mama of Letters: the photographs!

Well, I wish I could say this was a long time in coming, but I have been using SmugMug for a long time, and recently they have rolled out a whole new array of options, which has made my account even better. I was able to create an attractive site with just the photos I use on Mama of Letters. If you are interested, you can view a slideshow for each gallery: our long-term projects, my son’s little projects, and my general homeschooling photos. My favorite gallery contains my nature photos and how I’ve tried to foster nature appreciation in my boys. (Psst….Some of these nature photos have not appeared on Mama of Letters!)

Note that this is different from my photography website: Shelli Pabis Photography. Though there is some overlap in the photos from that site, most of the photos I use on Mama of Letters are snapshots and not professional by any means. Some of them I take with my iPad. I still love them, though, because they are of my family and daily life.

There’s a link to this site in my right-hand margin. If you like photos and less verbosity, then you may enjoy it. 😉

Thank you!

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to comment and vote on a cover for my first e-book, which you can still do in my last post. The voting has been very close between two titles, but your thoughts and ideas have been very informative and helpful. I’ll surprise you with the final outcome.

Now for a little Worthy Reads:

Homeschooling

Home school no longer just for the deeply religious – Los Angeles Daily News

Brace Yourselves, You’ve Chosen to Homeschool…Again – Catholic Sistas

Homeschooling Resources

Peg + Cat Equals Clever New Math Series – PBS Kids – a new cartoon on math!  I’m linking to the first episode here.

Education

How Common Core is Slowly Changing My Child – mrsmomblog

My Daughter’s Homework Is Killing Me – The Atlantic

I Need Your Help

Dear Readers,

I’m very excited that my very first e-book is almost ready to publish! This is a short book, and it’s the one I’m using to learn the ropes as I go about this business of e-publishing. I’ll be using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (for better or worse – as I said, I’m just learning right now).

This e-book will contain essays and photography that I wrote and took right before and after my second son was born, so it’s geared to new mothers. Many of them have not been published on this blog.

What I didn’t anticipate was how difficult it would be to come up with a title and cover for this book. Unlike the other e-books I’m hoping to write, which lend themselves to titles, this one is a little more difficult. It’s one mother’s experience as she welcomes her second baby into the world and leaves behind the leisurely days of caring for just one child. (Oh, she didn’t realize they were ‘leisurely’ until she had the second child.)

One theme that runs through the book is the seasons and sometimes I compare the stages of new motherhood to the different seasons, which is why you’ll see allusions to this in the cover and title options below.

What I’d like you to do is pick your favorite. Or more specifically, what would grab you, if you were shopping for an e-book on this subject? If nothing grabs you, feel free to tell me that too! Or a different combination of photo/title. Like I said, this is my learning experience and e-book “experiment.” I will appreciate any thoughts or advice from more seasoned e-book writers!

Keep in mind that I want my title to contain a searchable keyword. So “motherhood” or “mother” needs to be in there. I’m finally starting to lean toward one of these, so I’m interested in hearing what grabs you. THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP!

1.

I've Reached Autumn and Other Essays from a New Mother

2.

New Motherhood 2

3.

Seasons of New Motherhood 2

4.

What I Least Expected

Tell me which is your favorite in the comments! #1, #2, #3, or #4? Or you can e-mail me at shellipabis (at) gmail (dot) com. THANK YOU.

(UPDATE: Nathalie came up with an alternative in the comments which is more to the point of what my essays are about: “And Then There Were Two: Essays on Motherhood.” Feel free to weigh in on that too.)